Conveyor systems are one of the most crucial components of modern industry, but they are too often plagued by downtime. If just one conveyor has unexpected downtime, many thousands of products can be impacted, and some factories might grind to a halt. Poorly maintained conveyors equal lost revenue, but you can reduce your risk exposure by maintaining your conveyors like an expert.
The Importance of The Senses
Your senses are incredibly powerful and can do most of the preventative maintenance without much training. Simply walking the factory floor every day and paying attention to the following can reduce the risk of downtime:
- Unexpected dust or liquid – these can signify oil leaks, a poorly aligned conveyor belt, or abnormal belt wear.
- Strange noises – unusual noises can be symptomatic of bearings that have failed, sprockets or belts that have not been aligned properly or fallen out of alignment. and failed drives.
- Strange smells – these might indicate some unplanned friction.
- Equipment out of line with color cues. If you use color cues to ensure that guarding is adequately in place, simply inspecting this every day can prevent downtime from safety errors.
These simple sensory checks can enhance uptime significantly if you are religious about your inspections. Make sure you document your checks so you have traceable records that might be handy in diagnosing downtime in the future.
The Importance of the Manufacturer
It can be tempting to cut costs by using non-recommended parts (and many people do), but you need to think of the risk-reward ratio. How much will downtime cost you? If cash flow is an issue, is it worth taking out some light debt to avoid a downtime emergency? These are decisions only you can make. It is also worth checking in with the original manufacturer of the product. You should outline your concerns and assess your risk level by their reaction. It is recommended to ask to speak to an engineer instead of a salesperson when you do this.
The Importance of Following Instructions
Lastly, possibly the most crucial thing you can do when you are maintaining conveyors is to have a very clear list of the conveyor manufacturer’s instructions at hand during your inspections. If you want to take downtime seriously, follow every instruction to the letter and check with the manufacturer if you have any questions. As Fluent Conveyors outline, common issues like belt slipping can occur (and be disastrous to the health of your conveyor) simply by not following the manufacturer’s instructions about loading weight guidance. Another example that is perhaps more common is not following instructions about central loading – if items aren’t loaded centrally on the conveyor system, wear and tear could rapidly deteriorate the entire belt.
By keeping SMI (senses, manufacturer, instructions) in mind when making any decisions about your conveyor usage or maintenance, you will be able to save yourself a vast amount of money. Imagine your products are worth $20 dollars each and your conveyor has a capacity of 500 pieces per minute. Just one minute of downtime would cost you $10,000 and one hour would cost you $600,000. As with all business, keep your costs in mind!